Alarming News: I like Morgan Freeberg. A lot.
Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler: We were following a trackback and thinking "hmmm... this is a bloody excellent post!", and then we realized that it was just part III of, well, three...Damn. I wish I'd written those.
Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler: ...I just remembered that I found a new blog a short while ago, House of Eratosthenes, that I really like. I like his common sense approach and his curiosity when it comes to why people believe what they believe rather than just what they believe.
Brutally Honest: Morgan Freeberg is an intriguing guy...[he] asks great questions and answers others with style, flair, reason and wit. On the blogroll he goes. Make him a part of your regular blogospheric reading. I certainly will.
Brutally Honest: Morgan Freeberg is brilliant.
Common Sense Junction: Misha @ Anti-Idiotarian never ceases to amaze me. He keeps finding other good blogs. I went over to A.I. this morning for my daily Misha fix and he had found this guy named Morgan Freeberg in Fair Oaks, California, that has a blog, House of Eratosthenes. Freeberg says its "The Blog That Nobody Reads" but it may now become the blog that everybody reads.
Jaded Haven: Good God, Morgan, you cover a topic from front to back with a screwy thoroughness I find mind boggling. I'm in awe of your thought proccesses, my friend, you're an exceptional talent. You start by throwing in the kitchen sink, tie in someone's syphilitic uncle, bend around a rip tide of brilliance and bring it all home in a neat, diamond dripping package of an exceptionally readable moment of damn fine wordsmithing. I love reading you.
Mein Blogovault: Make "the Blog that No One Reads" one of your daily reads.
Philmon: When Morgan meanders, stick with him - he's got a point and it'll be worth it in the end. He's not a hit-and-run snarky quip kind of guy. The pieces all fall into place like tumblers in a lock and bang! He's opened a cognative door for you.
Rightlinx: Morgan at House of Eratosthenes is one of the best writers out there. I read him nearly every day because he manages to provide an interesting perspective, even though I don't always agree.
Poetic Justice: Cletus! Ah gots a laiv one fer yew...
So I was thinking back on this post, which I was actually requested to put together & blog so that a discussion would ensue, about this recent forced cultural disdain against women who happen to have man-appeal. It is clearly a resentment against cosmetics; it has little or nothing to do with substance. But it arouses my ire because, for forty years now, I’ve heard feminists tell me that everyone needs to think and live the way the feminists tell them to, because their way is the right way; over those forty years, they’ve gone from insisting women can have everything and don’t need to choose anything, nor should they have to — to, you can’t be invested with real authority, as a woman, if you happen to look good. So the inconsistency bothers me a lot. But also, it leads to an elite layer of female leaders, one that is somewhat detached from the rest of society and yet, in many cases, making highly influential decisions about how the rest of society should live. The decisions they make, then, are consistently wrong.
And, I’ll just say it, okay? Men can get offended by things too; yeah that’s shocking, to some, I know. And no matter how you cut it, it’s offensive to say there must be something wrong in a candidate for one of these positions of real power, just because you and people of your sex might happen to like her, that all by itself makes her unqualified. We need to keep looking until we find someone you wouldn’t want to be around. Yes, that is offensive, breathtakingly so. Just because nobody strings the words together in sequence, doesn’t mean that isn’t the intent, or that that isn’t the message that comes across.
But my primary objection is to the second of those three; that is where the damage is being done. The women selected are making bad decisions. And I hasten to add, as I always must, that I don’t mean to suggest by this that only beautiful women are capable of making good ones. What I mean to suggest is that when a woman or a man arrives from a culture which displays this hostility toward good-looking women, and they manage to hijack some selection process and steer it toward a homelier candidate…the aftermath is bad. It ends up being just another portal through which real authority can be seized, and wielded, by someone who shouldn’t have it. When a decision process that works by random selection can beat them by several points of probability, time after time, something’s hosed. And that’s what we’ve seen go down. My prior challenge continues to go unmet: Kagan. Sotomayor. Secretary of State Clinton. Name one good decision. Just one.
It occurs to me that phrases like “it’s always the ugly girl’s turn in the limelight” might be good for drawing attention to the matter — and this is overdue — but, apart from the undesirable consequences of alienating a few people who might otherwise by sympathetic to the observation, it misstates the true nature of the problem. The problem doesn’t really have to do with genetic blessings, or lack thereof. Or intellect, or lack thereof. It’s cultural. We have this culture that starts off with a good message: You shouldn’t value a woman’s leadership abilities based on her appearances. And then it imposes this viewpoint, at these crucial junctions where it might matter, in overly simplistic terms. Pretty, bad. Ugly, good.
But the cultural push is not to accept ugly women, or to reject beautiful ones. The desire has to do with intent. The hostility is against women who have made a priority out of their looks. It doesn’t have to do with the achievement, it has to do with the effort; the achievement is just a symptom.
But it’s unhealthy, because say what you want about beautiful women, an achievement is an achievement. Achievements should be rewarded, not punished.
Blogger friend Teri has a post up which links to a report about a study, which in turn reveals more about this than I think might have been intended. The study is not about ugly women, it’s about parental investment, reproductive strategy, and the traits that men might find to be attractive in available women. Thought this was telling:
To figure out which sorts of women might be deemed most receptive to a sexual advance or most vulnerable to male pressure or coercion, they asked a large group of students (103 men and 91 women) to nominate some “specific actions, cues, body postures, attitudes, and personality characteristics” that might indicate receptivity or vulnerability. These could be psychological in nature (e.g., signs of low self-esteem, low intelligence, or recklessness), or they might be more contextual (e.g., fatigue, intoxication, separation from family and friends). A third category includes signs that the woman is physically weak, and thus more easily overpowered by a male (e.g., she’s slow-footed or small in stature). According to the authors, rape constitutes one extreme end of the “exploitation” spectrum—cheesy pickup lines the other.
By asking students for the relevant cues, the experimenters reasoned, they’d keep their own ideas about what makes a woman “exploitable” from coloring their study. When all was said and done, the regular folks in the lab had come up with a list of 88 signs that—in their expert undergraduate opinions—a woman might be an especially good target for a man who wanted to score. Here’s a sampling of what they came up with: “lip lick/bite,” “over-shoulder look,” “sleepy,” “intoxicated,” “tight clothing,” “fat,” “short,” “unintelligent,” “punk,” “attention-seeking,” and “touching breast.” [bold emphasis mine]
The experimenters were concerned about keeping their own ideas from coloring the study…and yet…they had no problem coming up with categories for these cosmetic attributes. Psychological, contextual, and signs that the woman is physically weak.
Hmmm. I don’t know. I have seen the comments from many women, and heard them in face-to-face conversations, that there are a lot of men who crave weakness in their women, including physical weakness. I suppose I shouldn’t judge this perception if I haven’t actually been a woman trying to find a suitable male mate. Many among those complaining, have certainly come out and said so. But then again, it seems to me the people who harbor this preconception don’t spend a lot of time trying to get the male perspective on it. Frankly, it comes off looking like there’s another side to the story that’s being left out. Guys abandoned you because you’re strong? You didn’t, maybe, chase them off?
I’m a guy with some stories to tell about finding the right woman; I’ve talked to other guys who have stories to tell about finding the right woman; weakness, including physical weakness, doesn’t rate very highly on the list of things we started out trying to find, or that we ended up trying to find. As a practical matter, I’m having a tough time trying to think how that could enter into it unless the man plans to force yourself on your companion. And, you know, I’m skeptical on the idea that this would be representative of the typical male.
But I think we’re looking, here, at a post-mortem on the selection of women who don’t look good to men. If I were so privileged as to see a line-up of photographs of these women who made the cut, I could be more sure about it. But the researchers made a list of these 88 signs…taking these steps to keep their own ideas out of it, but you know, I’m gonna take it as a given that there was very little mind-blowing change in direction or perception here. They asked students. Students in colleges…with, probably, a wide assortment of curriculum offerings that end in the word “studies.” They asked a group of 194 students with a very slight male majority, in a college, what a strong, capable woman who can take care of herself, looks like.
I previously had mentioned Megyn Kelly as one of the gorgeous ones, who I think comes off as strong and able to handle things. I’m gonna take it as a given that the strong and capable women-pictures, ultimately selected, didn’t look much like Megyn Kelly.
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